Should teenagers still have baby teeth?


baby teeth

Often when parents come with their teenage children for their first visit to Cleveland Orthodontics, we are asked, “Why has she/he still got baby teeth?”

This post explains at what age it is “normal” for baby teeth to fall out for children and teenagers and whether baby teeth can be taken out so that braces can start ASAP.

What is “normal”?

The baby teeth have usually all fallen out by 13-14 years of age. Girls tend to start losing baby teeth earlier than boys.

But this is very variable. In the same way that some children mature at different rates physically (e.g. height), some children are far earlier (or later) at losing their baby teeth than others.

Your dentist will be monitoring the loss of the baby teeth during your child’s regular check-ups. If the baby teeth are being lost in a normal pattern and at the right age, a referral to the orthodontist may not be needed until all the baby teeth have been lost.

When might baby teeth be taken out?

Most dentists and orthodontists prefer the baby teeth to fall out naturally rather than be extracted. If baby teeth are taken out too early it can disrupt the eruption of the second teeth. Also multiple extractions can also be a traumatic experience for some children.

However there are some instances where the extraction of baby teeth may be considered. These include:

  • Badly decayed baby teeth
  • Impacted adult teeth, especially the upper canine teeth
  • If no adult tooth has grown under the baby tooth. This affects around 5% of people. The most common teeth to be missing are the upper lateral incisors and the lower second premolars.
  • Baby teeth still present after the age of 14 (for whatever reason)

Your dentist and/or orthodontist may need to take x-rays of the teeth to decide whether extractions are a good idea. So, the key is to ensure that children are taken for their regular check-ups.

There are all sorts of other things that may need an early orthodontic referral for children.

Can braces be started when baby teeth are still present?

Sometimes yes. Functional braces are used to correct teeth that stick out a lot. These can often be fitted with baby teeth still present.

There also some instances where it may be a good idea to have baby teeth out just before fixed braces are fitted. But this decision will have to be made after an assessment by your orthodontist as it is not always the best way forwards.

Orthodontic treatment is very popular these days and there is now a “fashion accessory” angle to the wearing of braces for teenagers… you can read more about this here.

Despite this, it is often better to let nature run its course by letting baby teeth fall out naturally rather than reaching for the dental forceps, especially for teenagers under the age of 14. However, orthodontists also understand that teenagers want to get brace treatment over with before they are in their later teens.

About Cleveland Orthodontics

Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East and Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.

We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.